WHY AM I STARTING A BLOG AND WHY DID I NAME IT INSIDE OUT ART TEACHER?
Well, here is the story…..
I am Lauren and I’ve been teaching high school art for 22 years. I truly believe that we perform our best and shine the most when we feel understood, valued, and as though we are able to give the people around us the best versions of ourselves.
WHEN WE FEEL GOOD ON THE INSIDE, IT IS REFLECTED ON THE OUTSIDE.
Throughout my years as a teacher, if there is one thing I’ve learned, it is that change is the one thing you can COUNT ON to be consistent. Not much about my job is the same as when I started. I am so grateful for all the people I’ve met that have helped me grow and change along the way.
EVERYONE NEEDS A COMMUITY THAT UNDERSTANDS AND SUPPORTS THEM
Art teachers have very unique needs and we usually have relatively small departments within the school community. Finding people to collaborate with to create lesson materials or quickly share ideas with can sometimes be a challenge.
In this rapidly changing world it is so important to lift each other up to grow stronger and rise high TOGETHER.
I created this website is to be a place of positivity and inspiration where art teachers can find ideas, lesson materials, videos, tips, information, and anything art related that can help them feel prepared and ready to shine in any teaching situation.
MOST OF US TEACH BECAUSE WE HAVE A PASSION FOR TEACHING KIDS TO BE CREATIVE
The art room has ALWAYS been a place where I felt alive and could hear my heart sing. I feel truly gifted to be able to create that same space for others. I KNEW when I was a high school student myself that the art room was where I belonged. I used to forgo my lunch period and add extra art classes to my schedule so that I had more time in the day to create.
I have to say the last few years and then the pandemic really challenged me. But not in a way that has lessened my confidence or my desire to be in the classroom.
Recently whenever I meet someone and they ask what I do, their reaction is always the same when I tell them I teach high school art. They look at me with such sympathy and say, ‘Oh my goodness this year must have been awful for you.’
The truth is, it wasn’t ideal but, it certainly was not awful. The circumstances were awful and the situation was terrible, but the actual teaching and learning part was pretty good considering what we were all going through.
I enjoyed being forced to find new ways to structure my lessons so I could be there for students who needed art and a safe place to escape more than ever. Seeing their heartfelt amazing artwork and the effort they put into it was so rewarding and reminded me of how powerful art can be.
Many of my students told me that this was the one class they really looked forward to in their day. I’ve even had parents reach out to tell me that my class was the highlight of their own days.
THE EARLY YEARS OF TEACHING ART
So the challenges this past year were really quite extreme, but I’ve always enjoyed pushing myself just a little outside my comfort zone and filling my days with opportunities to connect with others and learn new things.
I got hired right out of college and immediately LOVED my job but knew I wanted to be a master in my field. I found an excellent program designed just for art teachers at Columbia University. I lived in the city during the summers and attended classes full time on my time off. Then I went back to teaching during the year. It was a dream come true! I graduated with my Masters in Art Education in 2005 and never had to stop teaching.
My first years teaching were sooooooooo dreamy. I had small classes and many students were able to take art for four consecutive years. We had lots of art sections and lots of teachers to teach them. I really got to know every student deeply and we all felt connected, inspired, loved and driven to create amazing things every day.
TEACHING COMBINED LEVELS WITH LARGE CLASS SIZES
Over the course of time my school got larger, graduation requirements changed, and specialized academic programs with very specific course schedules were added. All of these things all took away the ability for many students to be able to take multiple years of art as easily as they could in the past.
Now, a large percentage of my students can’t even fit an art class in their schedule until junior or senior year and I am the only fine art teacher.
Because their schedules are so tight, I frequently have combined level classes with AP studio Art, Art 1, Art 2, and Art 3 students all in one class together and my class sizes are very large.
One day, I realized how much missed the deep connections I had with my students early on. I was feeling like I couldn’t give anyone the same attention I used to because I was juggling so many responsibilities at one time and trying to be the best at everything.
I started looking for lesson resources and video demonstrations I could load to Google Classroom so that my students could refer back to them if they needed help and I was unavailable. I just couldn’t find ANYTHING that fit my needs and there was nobody else in the school that could relate.
Then it hit me… I was looking outside when everything I knew I needed was right there inside of myself. I needed to totally change how I was teaching and begin creating my own materials that solved the problems that were getting in my way. I couldn’t change how my classes were organized but I could change how I managed them.
THINGS THAT WERE GETTING IN MY WAY
I started observing my day and made a list of the things that were unnecessarily taking up my time. These were a few of things I realized. I’m thinking you will be able to relate to some of these too.
- I was frequently reviewing basic steps of projects to students who missed classes for sports, appointments, absences, visits to the nurse, etc. I needed something they could refer to quickly at any time so that they weren’t waiting for me while I was working with other students or explaining the next steps to everyone else.
- On days where I was demonstrating or introducing a lesson to one level, if the other levels needed me for anything, I was unavailable. I needed videos and demonstrations that they could watch and review that were easy for them to access on their own devices that would show them everything anytime they needed it.
- No matter how organized my storage system there was always someone complaining that they lost a reference photo, rubric, or project. I needed a way to keep everyone’s materials, work, and progress organized digitally.
- Drawing takes TIME! My demonstrations would take up a lot of it. I needed to cut down demonstration time without eliminating important information. I needed to start creating videos that could show the project unfold QUICKER from start to finish.
Once I identified my needs, I sat down and began making slideshows, videos, practice worksheets, and handouts for whatever lessons I was teaching. I loaded everything students needed, including reference photos and rubrics to Google Classroom and organized them so all of the resources were available from any device at any time.
Creating these kinds of materials has been a game changer. Students appreciate the organization and love knowing answers to many of their questions are just a click away.
Now whenever anyone asks “What do I do next?….. as the phone is ringing, and another student is waiting for my help …. I can say, “If you check the assignment in our Google Classroom, there is a step by step resource so you can see the steps unfold faster and in more detail.”
I also started putting QR codes on my handouts that link directly to the slideshows, videos, and lesson materials so students can access everything EVEN IF I DONT LOAD IT TO GOOGLE CLASSROOM. I can simply print the worksheets and handouts and they know they can simply scan the code to review the demonstration.
MY NEW ART WAS BORN
I always felt great as a teacher, but this new system has really helped me shine. I had no idea how much I would love graphic design, making videos, and designing worksheets. It fills my heart to know that the resources I create are helping me reach more of my students on a much deeper level. I spend more time out of the classroom creating, but my time in the classroom is so much more fulfilling.
When I create art lesson materials, time stands still. I treat every art project I create as my own personal work of art. The process is just as rewarding as the finished products and I know they are saving me time in the end.
I HOPE MY ART RESOURCES CAN HELP YOU IN YOUR ART CLASSROOM TOO
In 2018 I started joining art teacher groups on Facebook and Instagram to find other teachers like me who were looking to create a community to share art teacher tips and find inspiration we could use in our classrooms. I realized there were other art teachers with similar situations searching for solutions like I was. I opened my TPT shop so more teachers and students could benefit and save time creating their own resources.
Through these channels I have made some amazing friends and recognized the value of community. I hope for this website to be another way I can help teachers like me adapt, overcome, and feel amazing no matter what situations change brings. I created this short video so I can properly introduce myself and welcome you here. Thank you for stopping in and I hope you find something to help or inspire you to feel great in the classroom and save you valuable time.